How are we to read the Bible? Can we believe what it says? And…what does it say really?

I’ve heard it said that the Bible is a good book but it’s not to be read literally. If it’s not to be read literally then exactly how do you read it? The Bible is written in different formats throughout: some being written as prophetic which is written using metaphors and analogies so no, that you wouldn’t read literally. Other books are written in poetic format. Still other books are written in a Historical-narrative format which in that case you take it for exactly what it says. If one is going to take the stance that the Bible is not literal, then what it is for? What does any of it mean? Jesus could just be an idea then. God could just be a state of mind or whatever else you want Him to be. People over the centuries have been doing this very thing and that is to dismiss the notion that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, that it’s literal-that it means what it says. If one can dismiss it as being literal then one is removed from any accountability which makes things much easier on the conscience because then they don’t have to conform or answer for anything.

Many make Jesus out to be some type of hippie love child because that fits what ‘works’ for them. It’s not about fitting Jesus into our lives but rather about us dying to ourselves and fitting into what He wants for us. Many people this notion that Jesus came to set us free from religion-for that would supposedly explain why he was constantly challenging and denouncing the religious leaders of His day. Is that true? Is that why Jesus came? To abolish religion and to create a giant ‘love everyone’ 60’s movement back in the 1st century? Let’s take a further look shall we…?

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 Jesus came as the fulfillment of what God had already been doing for thousands of years through the Jewish people. Man is sinful . He is born sinful at birth and separated from God. All of us are. In days of antiquity, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the other 600+ laws to provide boundaries for man and more importantly, to show us our sinful we are-just how far from God we are in our feeble attempts to be righteous or holy or good. The Old Testament outlines this story well and continually shows men stumbling and falling and unable to keep God’s Laws. Before the Law was given, God had come in to a covenant agreement with Abraham that He would bless him greatly. As time went on, God saw that men needed something to show them who He was, in relation to their sinfulness and His holiness because God cannot dwell together with sin or those living in sin. So we have then Moses who came to be the deliverer of the Israelites from the oppression under Egypt. Admist their deliverance though, there was constant sin and rebellion thus the Law was given. God came into another covenant with Moses and the Israelites that if they would obey His Law He would bless them greatly-prosper them, deliver them from their enemies, from sickness and disease, and make them a great people. All this was contingent though upon them being able to keep all of the Laws they had been given. They were unable of course to do so. Why? Because again, we as men/women are born sinful and God’s Law never saved anyone or made anyone righteous or holy. It can’t. Never will. The Law was given only to show us how messed up we are and that by God’s grace we need something better than the Law. In the Law, it was prescribed for the people to offer sacrifices for their sins-daily, weekly, yearly. They had to celebrate feasts, Sabbath days and continual ordinances constantly, over and over again. All of this though pointed to something better, to someone better. A better sacrifice than bulls or goats or lambs.

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Jesus came as the fulfillment of the Law. He came as a man (yet fully God) and lived a perfect life on this Earth-a life free from sin. Free from sinful actions and free from original sin (the sin of Adam and Eve) which was why He was born of a virgin (so that man sin/seed was not passed on to Him). He came as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin to set us free from the burden of the Law so that we could come in to an actual relationship with the God of this universe because before He came, that was impossible. God was unapproachable. He is absolutely holy and pure and good. We are the exact opposite. By Jesus coming in the form of a man, He stood in our place and made a new covenant (agreement/contract) with God, one that He is able to keep perfectly and forever thus opening the door for us to enter into covenant with God as well based not on what we do, but based on what Jesus did.

When we choose to place our trust in Jesus, to believe on all that He did, on all that He is, it means surrender of ourselves to Him completely. We are dying to our own lives and living for Him. How is this done? It is not done just by believing or by going to a church on Sunday or even reading a Bible. No, when Jesus ascended into Heaven He promised to send His Holy Spirit to come and live inside of us. This is not some mystical idea or analogy but rather a very real spirit coming to live inside of us and literally change us from within. It’s called being born-again and it is a real change that happens inside because we receive the very nature of God living on the inside of us, empowering us to live holy, to love people and to love God and to overcome sin in our lives.

Jesus didn’t come as some would say just to deliver us from Religion. Yes, He addressed the ‘religious’ folk of His day-the Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Law because they had gotten caught up in the mere written commands, they had gotten caught up in the mere act of ‘doing’ all these things because they thought that by them they would be righteous in God’s sight-and many of them felt it made them better (holier) than the other people around them which led to a vain self-righteousness which is a stench in God’s nostrils. He came not to abolish religion but rather to establish relationship. Relationship with God the Father-the very creator of the universe. The God who created men.

I say all this because Jesus and why He came is much more than the humanistic love-fest for which many ascribe to Him. Yes, God is love. He is the very embodiment of love. He loves us so much that while we drowning in our sin, our selfishness, our perversion, our self-reliance, self-righteousness and even hate for God…He sent His own son to die on a cross for us. But even more than mere physical death on the cross, Jesus bore all the weight of our sin on Himself at the cross. It caused Jesus to be temporarily separated from God the Father. Because He loved us. Because He still loves us. Because God is love.

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                The Bible is the Word of God and was written for us as a means to know who God is. To know what God desires. To show us how to live. To show us how to love. Some say they don’t read the Bible literally? That is the only way to read it. It’s either true or it isn’t. It’s either a fairy tale or the written words of God. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The Jesus Christ talked about (literally) in the Bible. I am born again, filled with the Holy Spirit of God as written in the Bible. I live my life according to what Jesus taught-I know what He taught because it’s written in the Bible. I strive to love those around me and let my life be completely surrendered to God-because that is what the Bible teaches. The Holy Spirit directs me and changes me (not me changing myself) because I that is what the Bible says He came to do. I want others to know Jesus, to be cleansed from their sins, to be empowered to live a new life, holy and set free from the power of sin-because that is what the Bible teaches. I know that God loves me and that ultimately my life is in His hands because the Bible has told me so. Jesus is real. God is real. His Word is truth and that truth will set you free.

Following Christ and being born again is not just some religion. There are many religions around the world all ascribing to some notion of ‘do, do, do’. All trying to get to some state of nirvana or higher power. Religion is about man doing something to become like God. Not Christianity. Christianity is about God doing something to save man. Religion is man reaching up. Faith in Jesus is about God reaching down.

People can dismiss the Word and skate around what the Bible says until the sun goes down but the truth remains that it is God’s Word and is truth. I know first-hand because it has set me free and continues to work in my life. I’m not perfect by any means but rather am a work in progress. If people will let go of all the junk standing in the way-all the hurt which is keeping them bound and bitter-all the humanistic ideas of today’s society-if they will let go of themselves and their own ideas and let God come in, they will discover that what the Bible says is literally true.  I believe in the power of God that wants to transform people’s lives. He wants to transform your life. Your sin will always keep you separated from God and there is nothing you can do to change that or overcome it. Will you repent of your sin today, confess before the Lord that He came in the flesh as the Son of God to live on this life as a man, to bear your sin (and the sin of the entire world), to die on a cross (effectively taking your place in death because everyone must be judged and sentenced for their crimes-and sin is the ultimate crime), was resurrected from the dead and has risen back into Heaven all just for you? The Bible says if we confess Jesus before men He will acknowledge us before His Father. It says if we will repent of our sin and turn to God that we will be forgiven and times of refreshing will come from the Lord. If we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe (trust/have complete faith in) that God has raised Him from the dead that we will be saved (saved from our sins) and we will be born again.

Will you make the decision today?

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